Nearly all workplaces (93 percent) in America now require that employees be vaccinated against the flu, according to a survey released Wednesday by the National Business Group on Health.
The survey was based on responses from 712 large organizations, employing more than 14 million workers.
Flu vaccine mandates generated considerable opposition among those employers, including one-third of those companies that cited “employee choice” as a primary or secondary reason they did not require vaccine, the survey says.
But employee choice was more often associated with small-group workplaces (34 percent) than with large groups (12 percent). It was the second-highest reason cited.
“Despite the vote to mandate the influenza vaccine in all workplace settings, many employers may be reluctant to mandate the use of flu vaccine because they face difficult compliance issues and cost implications,” said Pam Frumkin, president of the National Business Group on Health.
Frumkin said the most commonly cited reason companies gave for not requiring the flu vaccine was because employees had received the vaccine before coming to work.
“The nearly universal requirement in business settings in the U.S. is driven by a desire to protect employees and reduce the risk of influenza. The flu epidemic is a wake-up call that employers must demand and comply with flu vaccination,” Frumkin said.
The survey was conducted in October and November.
At a recent Congressional hearing, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, testified that recent research had shown that older people and teenagers were “the most likely group to get influenza and that they were actually the ones that are most at risk for complications from flu.”
Gottlieb said his view in 2015 was that it would be “almost impossible to administer a vaccination in an unvaccinated population of that age, but now there is evidence that with only a small subset of those vaccinated, we actually do effectively vaccinate unvaccinated age groups.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation released the findings last week that it found that 83 percent of Americans aged 65 or older got their flu shot.
Pam Frumkin said “the real answer to the vaccine question is that the price is not what matters most. What matters most is whether the protection it provides is affordable and meaningful.”
The National Business Group on Health helps companies choose and implement health care plan designs that make the most sense for their employees.